Posted on March 6th, 2014
Hi, it’s been awhile; I’ve been busy with a new work project that I’m excited about, and I’ll post about it soon. Spring has almost sprung, and I can always tell it’s just around the corner based on my shamrock. About this time of year, it sheds extra leaves and starts showing off its little, little white blossoms. Love them.
On to the subject at hand: When we bought our 1937 home, the main-floor bath was so sad. The cream-colored walls were dingy and dirty, a hand-painted wallpaper border hung near the ceiling, and the ceiling was sponge-painted rust. I was glad it was a full bath, but it really wasn’t pretty.
Unfortunately, a complete bathroom remodel is not part of our budget right now, so we had to do things on the cheap — because as you know, a bathroom remodel is one of the most expensive things you can do to a house, right after making over a kitchen.
Here are the few steps we took to give our bath an inexpensive makeover:
>> Strip the wallpaper. Stripping this border wasn’t as tough as I expected, probably because it hadn’t been hung very well. I used a combination of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, saturated a few feet at a time, then used a plastic scraper to tear it down and remove as much glue as possible (you can see my progress in the first photo above).
>>Prep the walls. After the border was down, I used the same vinegar/water combo to clean the walls and remove what was left of the glue.
Also, our pedestal sink is such a sorry excuse for functionality; there’s not even enough room around the top edge for a soap dispenser. So the previous owners had installed a soap dish directly to the wall. And although it was quaint and vintage looking, it was an absolute mess; the thing was always coated with grimy soap residue a la a gas-station restroom. So the soap dish was removed, and the screw hole was filled. We also removed a shower-curtain rod screwed into the wall because we never shower in this bath — in fact, the shower head is so low that only our kids would be able to wash their hair there without stooping down.
>> Give it a coat of white paint. We bought a gallon of paint with primer and had it tinted to match Martha Stewart’s Popcorn. And we used the entire gallon to cover all the walls and ceiling too.
>> Clean the tub till it shines. I had heard good things about Kaboom with OxiClean, so I gave it a go. After two sessions scrubbing grout lines with a toothbrush, it looked pretty fresh for a 77-year-old tub and surround. Except now that I’m looking at photos, it looks like it need more attention up top, ha! By the way, our tub is one of those old porcelain ones, and I just love the way it feels when I’m bathing.
>> Cover the floor. I do not love the off-whitish tile in the bathroom, but since I can’t install a honeycomb-tile floor like I want, I decided to cover it with a geometric rug. I bought this one at target.com for $24.99. It’s cotton, so throwing it in the wash will be no problem.
>> Add some art. This was one of the best parts of the makeover. I knew the artwork would be the focal point of the bath since the wall where it would hang is visible from the hall. So I patiently waited for the right piece to show itself, and it did. At an estate sale — in the cold storage, of all places — I found this print of a Steller’s jay for $12. I had fallen in love with Steller’s jays when we lived in Reno, Nev., because they are indigenous to the area — you should see how many fly around Lake Tahoe. So this bird has special meaning to my family. The print is 18-by-21 inches, it fills the space nicely, and it came framed in this fabulous old brass frame that I love just as much as the print itself. Score.
>> Towels, anyone? The towels I want are $25, which is too much to spend right now. So I went with a simple white one I already had. I actually like how clean it looks — more white on white.
I still need to hang a little shelf over the sink to hold a soap dispenser, and I’d like to replace the toilet seat/lid. Someday we really will renovate this bathroom — then it will really shine! But for now, it feels much cleaner and more “us” than what we got when we bought the house. Total cost: $67 so far.